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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 9, 2013 4:30pm-6:31pm EST

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proud and makes me believe that there is still some hope for bipartisanship here in the united states senate, and your leadership i think has been vital in putting together an authorization bill which i think is, as we described, is incredibly important. i would ask both of my colleagues, i'm hearing now from especially on this side of the aisle that, well, it's okay if we -- if we let this go over into january. after all, we've only got another week. we've got the farm bill, we've got the budget agreement, et cetera. why not just, in the house, the other side of the capitol, is going out of session. why isn't it just okay to wait until january? we'll be back early in january and work on this legislation then. i'm pretty sure i know the answer, but i'd ask the chairman if that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds, even if, contrary to
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custom in january, that we would do anything legislatively. mr. levin: the senator points out the reality, which is what is likely to happen in january. but there is another reality. in other words, what will happen in january, it will be very difficult to get to this bill because of, number one, the crushing business of c.r.'s and other crushing business in january tpaoepb we meet in -- even if we meet in january. i guess the shortest answer i can give is the following: i'm in combat. i'm in combat somewhere in the world, and i'm going to read, combat pay stops on december 31. there's dozens of these kind of authorizations that are listed in general demsey's letter. dozens of them that just stop on december 31. just take that one. think about that. what kind of an impression are
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we giving to our men and women who are in combat, in harm's way, when they read combat pay stops? maybe it will be extended in january or in february, but that's totally unsatisfactory. it would be outrageous, i believe, for us not to pass this bill. mr. inhofe: i'd like to add that i noticed here that the average time it takes to debate on the floor to pass the n.d.a. is nine days. that's over the last ten years average. if you look at the -- i used this earlier -- the calendar for january, we come back on the 6th. we have a c.r. on the 15th. and it's not as if we're going to be -- we're going to be spending that time on the c.r.. then of course we're going to be faced the next month with the debt ceiling. so i just don't see that that's going to happen.
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i think it's going to happen in some other way, but it's not going to happen in reform. i appreciate very much the senator from arizona calling this to the attention that this is, we can't wait till january. it's not going to work. we know it's going to expire december 31. we also know what can't happen in january because there flat isn't time. mr. mccain: i don't know if my colleagues would like to respond or not but i'd like to make two comments. one is that i'm deeply disappointed, deeply, deeply disappointed in the majority leader not taking up this legislation much earlier. the majority controls the calendar. that's one of the key elements of the majority's winning elections and majority in the senate. and for us to wait since, i believe, june when we passed the bill out of the armed services committee until just shortly, a short time ago and then only
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allowing a few days is really a grave disservice not so much to the members of the senate, but it's a grave disservice and a lack of prioritization of the importance of this legislation. and i'm deeply disappointed that the majority leader of the senate, because of his manipulation of the calendar has put us in this position. having said that, i spend time, as i know the senator from oklahoma and the senator from michigan, our distinguished chairman have, in the company of men and women who serve. one of our obligations as members of the armed services committee is to spend time with the military. i know that the senator from oklahoma does and the senator from -- the chairman does as well. and, you know, their morale isn't good. they've seen sequestration take place, across-the-board cuts that have been done with a meat-ax and not a scalpel.
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and all three of us would agree that there are enormous savings that could be enacted in our nation's defense department. we haven't even got an audit of the defense department. year after year after year we demand that an audit be conducted by the department of defense by a certain year, and it's never happened. and so we're not apologists. in fact, i believe that the chairman and ranking member have been zealous in their efforts to reduce waste and mismanagement and duplication in the armed services, in the defense department through their work on the armed services committee. but the morale of our men and women who are serving is being harmed, and it's not something that shows up in dollars and cents. but it does show up over time. i would ask the senator from michigan, it does show up over time in their willingness to remain in the military.
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i was recently down at fort campbell, kentucky, with the senator from tennessee, senator alexander, and we had an excellent briefing from the colonels and the generals, and the chief master sergeants of the united states army there. and unanimous, unanimous was their view that they believe that we in the congress of the united states are not taking care of them. they've always looked to us to provide them with the pay, the benefits, the housing, the equipment, the training that's necessary to do their job. they don't believe we're doing that anymore. they believe when we enact sequestration and with a meat-ax cut across the board -- and don't ask me about it. ask general odierno and the chiefs who have testified before the armed services committee about the devastating effects of readiness, of training, of
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acquisition. and most of all, on the morale of the men and women who are serving who literally don't know, some of them, what they're going to be doing the next day. the next day they don't know if they're going to be able to fly their airplanes or run their tanks or have the exercises that have been planned for months and even years. they don't know because of almost day to day trying to apportion funds that are remaining in the most efficient and beneficial way. so i stand before my colleagues in the senate today and the two leaders in the authorization committee embarrassed, embarrassed and a bit ashamed that we've done this to these good men and women who are willing to put their lives in harm's way to defend us, and we can't even pass a bill that authorizes what they need to defend this nation with. it's shameful. shameful.
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i want to thank the senator, chairman and ranking member for the hard work they have done on this legislation, their thousands of hours they've spent on behalf of defending this nation and the men and women who serve it. i yield. mr. levin: i want to thank the senator from arizona for everything he's been doing for so many decades for this country, including on our committee. it's invaluable. we're going to get this bill passed. that's our determination. it would be a shock to, i think, every american if we are unable to pass the defense authorization bill. it would be totally intolerable. i know senator inhofe and i, with the help of senator mccain and others, are going to get this bill done this year. mr. inhofe: mr. president, one last comment i want to make. you can listen to us down here and not get the full impact. i carry this with me, the very top person, top military person in the country, the chairman of
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the joint chief of staffs, general demsey, told us, our committee, that we are putting our military on a path where the force is so degraded and so unready that it would be immoral to use force. that's the number-one guy. the number-two guy, admiral winfield, stated for the first time in my career, instances where we may be asked to respond to a crisis and we will have to say that we cannot. well, we can't correct all that with this bill, but we can sure keep it from getting worse and get back and do what we've done over the last 52 years and pass an n.d.a. bill. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. officer without objection. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following name nation, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. patricia ann millett of virginia to be united states circuit judge for the district of columbia circuit. the presiding officer: there will be 30 minutes of debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, i know we aren't voting on this nomination today. i think it'll be tomorrow, but i don't think there will be time to make remarks tomorrow, so i am expressing not only my opposition to the nominee being confirmed but also the bigger issuer of whether or not there
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should be any additional judges put on the d.c. circuit. approximately six months ago, june 4, 2013, the president simultaneously nominated three people for the d.c. circuit. everyone knew then, just as they know now, that these scwudges are -- these judges are not needed. the d.c. circuit has the lowest caseload in the country, by far, based on the standards that the democrats established just a few years ago when a republican was in the white house. in fact, the caseload on the d.c. circuit is so low that on april 10, 2013, approximately two months prior to these nominations, i introduced legislation together with every republican member of the committee to eliminate one seat of the d.c. circuit and move two
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others to different circuits where they had bigger caseloads and needed additional help. that would be the sensible way to address this issue. don't spend $1 million in taxpayers' money per year per judge on judgeships that aren't needed. that's common sense, especially when the judges currently on the court say -- and i quote one of them in a letter -- "if anymore judges were added now, there wouldn't be enough work to go around." end of quote. don't waste $3 million a year. instead, simply move the seats to where they are needed, where there's a much bigger caseload. that would be the sensible and, of course, the good-government approach. but being sensible and good stewards of taxpayer dollars
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isn't what the other side had in mind when they hatched the scheme. the far from it. no, the administration's move here was clear from the very beginning. they knew they couldn't pass their liberal agenda through a divided congress. the american people had already rejected that agenda at the ballot box. but the administration, of course, still runs the federal agencies. and through the agencies, the administration can ignore the will of the american people and continue to pursue a job-killing agenda. it doesn't matter that the american people don't want their government to pass cap-and-trade fee increases. the administration will simply force it upon the american people anyway through the environmental protection agency. it doesn't matter that the
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employer mandate penalty under obamacare doesn't apply to the 34 states that haven't created insurance exchanges. the administration forced the employer mandate upon the american people anyway through an i.r.s. regulation. this has been the administration's plan. it can't get its liberal agenda through the congress, but it has saddled the american people with its job-crushing agenda anyway through agency regulation. but there's a catch to this scheme, a very big catch: agency decisions are reviewed by the federal judiciary. that happens to be our very independent third branch of government. so for this scheme to work, the white house needed to stack the d.c. circuit with judges who were rubber stamps for its
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agenda. as a result, the administration decided to ram their agenda through the agencies and simultaneously stack the d.c. circuit with judges that they believe would rubber stamp that agenda. that's why, on the very same day that the president made these three nominations, i said this, and i quote myself -- "it's hard to imagine the rationale for nominating three judges at once for this court, given the many vacant emergency seats across the country, unless your goal is to pack the court to advance a certain policy agenda." end of quote. now, during the last few months, we have debated this issue, and throughout the debate, the other side has tried their best to obscure the objective. they have manipulated caseload
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statistics in an effort to deny the obvious, that the judges aren't needed and won't have enough work to go around as is. they have twisted the words of the administrative office of the u.s. courts. they have claimed the chief justice of the united states believes these judgeships are needed when, of course, statistics show that isn't remotely close to being true. they even stoop so low as to accuse republicans of gender bias. but no matter how the other side manipulated the data or tried to conceal their agenda, they couldn't overcome simple and basic facts everyone knew to be true, and that truth is that under the standard established by the democrats under the bush administration, these judgeships aren't needed and shouldn't be confirmed. as a result, when the united
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states senate considered these nominations, it denied consent. the other side lost the debate. under normal circumstances, that would have been the end of this matter, but not this time. this time there is a democrat in the white house, not a bush in the white house, and a republican minority in the united states senate. so the caseload statistics that carried the day in 2006 when we had a republican majority in this body no longer matters to today's democratic majority. this time, apparently, there are only three members of the majority who care more for the senate as an institution than they do for their party or short-term political gain. and, of course, the biggest difference is that this time what's at stake is a radical
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agenda in the other side's effort to remove any meaningful check and balance on that agenda. in short, it's obamacare. in short, it's climate change regulation. and the method for doing it is presidential rule by fiat. the other side decided that there were no long -- that they were no longer willing to play by the rules that they established in 2006 and that they pioneered in that year when we had a republican president and a republican majority in the senate. they lost the debate, so they changed the rules of the game a couple weeks ago in the middle of the fourth quarter of the game. they triggered the so-called nuclear option because salvaging obamacare and insulating
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cap-and-trade fee increases from meaningful judicial review were just too important ideological battles that this administration wanted to get done one way or the other. but as i said, the end games for this scheme has been clear ever since it was formulated. so i wasn't surprised to read media accounts confirming the reasons democrats broke the senate rules in order to get these nominees confirmed. for instance, on november 3 -- 23, "the hill" newspaper ran an article with this headline -- quote -- " filibuster change clears path for obamacare climate regs crackdown." end of quote. "the hill" newspaper had this to say -- quote -- " green groups might be the biggest winners from senate democrats' decision to gut the minority party's
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filibuster rights on nominations their top priority, president obama's second-term regulations on climate change, is likely to have a better shot at surviving challenges once obama's nominees are confirmed for the crucial u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia." end quote. and "the washington post" wrote this -- quote -- "democrats say the shift in the court will be especially important given obama's legislative proposals have little chance to prevail in the g.o.p.-controlled house. the most contentious issue likely to face the appeals court are climate change regulations being pursued by the e.p.a. the measures represent obama's most ambitious effort to combat climate change in his second term. coal-fired power plants are the key source of carbon emissions,
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at a time when such proposals have no chance of passage in congress." end of quote from "the post." the same "washington post" article acknowledged the importance of removing the judicial check on obamacare -- quote -- "the court is expected to hear a series of other legal challenges as well, including lawsuits related to elements of the affordable care act, the consumer finance protection bureau and new air quality standards." end of quote. and here is how one liberal environmental media outlet described the change -- quote - "when senate democrats blew up the filibuster thursday, they didn't just rewrite some rules, they struck a mortal blow to a tradition that has blockaded effective action on climate change." end of quote. and, of course, according to media reports, it was the same
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liberal interest groups that pressured the majority leader to break the rules to change the rules. according to "the hill" newspaper -- quote -- " the sierra club was part of a coalition of liberal groups and unions that pressured senate majority leader harry reid to limit the use of the filibuster through a majority vote." end of quote. so if there was any doubt whatsoever about why the other side took such drastic action, changing the very historic process of the united states senate, there shouldn't be any doubt any longer. the other side could no longer stand up to the more extreme wing of their party. under pressure from those interest groups, the other side tossed aside willy-nilly some 225 years of senate history and tradition.
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what's more, by joining the majority leader in voting to break the rules, every senator who did so empower the president to install judges whose appointments are specifically designed to rubber stamp the president's regulatory agenda. no one is going to be able to hide with this vote, so this is, in fact, very common sense, a power grab, a power grab, of course, but it's much more than that. it's the erosion of a constitutional principle established since 1787, made very clear in the federalist papers on why the separation of powers are so important to establish to our government to make sure that no one person has all power. it's the white house that is so commited to a policy agenda that
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the american people don't want, that a co-op did a majority of the united states senate in its scheme to remove a meaningful judicial check on the executive branch of government and their agenda. this is about a white house trying to rig the game so it can impose its cap-and-trade fee increases on the american people even though the american people don't support it. and this is about a last-ditch effort to salvage obamacare and regulations like the i.r.s. rule imposing the employer mandate penalty in 34 states in direct conflict with the statute. how to do it? by installing judges the white house believe will rubber stamp their edict. so i urge my colleagues to stand up to this white house, stand up
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to the radical liberal interest groups. don't cast your vote for cap-and-trade fee increases and for judges that will rubber stamp that and don't cast another vote for obamacare. instead, vote against this nomination. it's not needed. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, you know, there really are some good things that are going on. i want to talk about that. i first want to ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business until 6:15, with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, some tough times around here, but you know i usually look for the good
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news. we find good news suddenly. would you have believed six months ago that most of the chemical weapons in syria would be dismantled at this point? in our wildest expectations, we could not have expected that, and but for the technicalities and the specifics of the inspections, that clearly appears to have occurred or be well on the way of occurring. or take, for example, we're now 43 straight months in the economy of private sector job growth after plunges of the economy, after bear stearns went down and then lehman brothers
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went down, and of course we were in a financial death spiral. and little by little, we are coming out of it, and of course the news just announced last friday on the jobs report gives us another indication that the economy is really beginning to take hold. and we see that in the confidence that's being expressed. we see that in the real estate market. we certainly see that in the financial markets in new york. but let me give you another piece of good news that most people would not really think about. there has been a discovery of a former martian lake that as we reach out into the cosmos trying to find any indications of life,
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scientists are now thinking that this martian lake might have harbored life billions of years ago, about the time that some of the scientists suggest that small particles of life might have started on this planet. and if this proves out and we're going to mars, not just with robots, eventually in the 2030's, we'll go with humans, and when we get there to find out was that true and if so was that light -- life developed and if it developed was it civilized and if it's civilized, what happened, and what can we learn from that that might help us as a civilized life?
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and so i see good signs. i see the good signs of senator kerry as our secretary of state and what he's doing in trying to bring the parties together in the middle east. so instead of all being doom and gloom, i see good things. now, senator schumer and i are here for another reason. we don't want to make a mistake. and for some number of years, there has been on the books a law which will expire at midnight tonight that has protected us from weapons going through detectors that are not made of metal that the detectors
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can't detect, and of course not only are we talking about government buildings and other secure facilities but clearly we're talking about airports as well. and so now computer technology has advanced to the point ever since we had that old law that you can actually with a computer, through a 3-d processing, laying down plastic layer upon plastic layer, you can create a weapon, a weapon that cannot be detected with most of the detectors that we have today. that old law needs to be updated, but apparently there are those who do not want it updated. and so as a last gasp, we are
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appealing to the senate before the stroke of midnight tonight, when this law is erased, to continue the old law that will at least go after the plastic type weapons, plastic guns of which their manufacturer is required that they have some part of metal in them in order to detect them. but the technology has surpassed that. they can now manufacture them with 3-d printing, no metal parts, and it will still shoot a bullet. now that's what we're going to have to update. and so with the simple click of a mouse, things are changed, and it makes it practically
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invisible to metal detectors and other screening devices. and so i want to thank the senior senator from new york who has taken the lead on this. he has recognized this problem. he has asked me to join him in e house last week passed similar legislation to not do what we ought to do update the law but to continue the current ban for another ten years. they obviously pose a very serious threat to our national security as well as to americans' personal security. and we need to do everything that we can to keep them out of the hands of the people who want to do harm to others. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i'm looking forward to the comments from the senior senator of new york.
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mr. schumer: mr. president, i want to wait for senator -- here he is, good. i'll speak for a minute and ask my consent request. and then senator grassley will ask his, i presume. okay. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: mr. president, thank you. i want to thank my good colleague from florida who has been a great partner on this very important issue. he outlined it well. and i will just speak for a few minutes on it. the bottom line, mr. president, is very, very simple. there are bad people who always want to obey the law and there are good people who want to protect the law. our job is to prevent the bad people without hurting the good people. we will have different views on
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gun control as to where that draw that line, but it seems to me on this issue there should be no dispute whatsoever. this is, as our senator from florida outlined, new technology that for the first time will allow guns to be made that function without metal. that presents a serious danger. some might say a mortal danger to our safety. because if you can pass a gun through a metal detector whose very purpose is to stop guns from getting noodle cat areas -- into delicate areas -- airports, sports stadiums, courts, schools -- you can create real havoc. to allow plastic guns that can fire one bullet, two bullets, three bullets, four bullets into these places creates real danger for our citizenry. and there were some wise people back in 1988, even before these
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guns could be developed, who passed a law that said we should not allow them to exist. it was a good law. the trouble is, as my colleague from florida has outlined, technology has advanced, so not only are these guns real, but they can be made so that the law that exists and expires tonight can be evaded. if you were to add an easily moveable piece of metal to one of these plastic guns, walk with it with that metal on it, legal under present law, take it off as you put it under a metal detector so it is all plastic, and then quietly insert it back on the gun after it goes through a metal detector, you would have
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a gun on both sides of the metal detector that is legal under present law, the law that expires tonight. and you would have evaded the very purpose that we have metal detectors at our airports, sports stadiums and other places, to prevent guns from being smuggled in. and so what we would ideally like to do, the senator from florida and i, is say that those types of guns, as well as guns that are purely plastic, should be illegal. and a gun must have some metal in it that can't be removed easily. and those guns would be legal. but those guns couldn't be smuggled through metal detectors. now, years ago it seemed like this was all fiction. i remember a movie "in the line of fire" john malkovich, seeking
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to kill the president takes months to make a gun out of plastic. it was science fiction but in the last few years that science fiction has become a reality. 3-d printers, a technology overall that is miraculous. 3-d printers can create car parts at a much cheaper price, create a trachea for a baby so it can live. but they can also create plastic guns. and now technology allows them to be sold for $1,000, a little more than $1,000, so just about anyone can get one; certainly a terrorist intent on doing evil. so the ban takes on new urgency, and today there's good news and bad news. the good news is that the house of representatives has passed a bill to extend that ban for ten years. the bad news is the dangerous loophole i mentioned is still in
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the bill. under existing law, the law that expires tonight, you can make one of these undetectable guns perfectly legal by simply attaching a removable piece of metal to the handle, and then you could have the gun, have it be legal at the last moment when you wanted to slip it somewhere where it could be very dangerous, you remove the metal part and make the gun invisible to the metal detector. all the senator from florida and i want to do is simply require the metal piece be permanently affixed to the gun. any gun without a permanent middle piece would be illegal. a simple fix that will save lots of lives. unfortunately, the house bill that passes keeps the present loophole in the law. i haven't heard any argument against our amendment other than nose in the camel's tent. this will allow people to do other bad things. but i haven't heard one specific argument against our closing the loophole in the law and the way we want to do it. but, unfortunately, from what
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i'm told there will be tobgs that, and -- there will be objection to that and we will just pass a ten-year extension. that's better than nothing, but it doesn't get us across the finish line. the house bill is a step in the right direction, certainly better than letting the law expire but still has a glaring loophole in it. so i would hope that we can pass a bill that not only extends the current ban, but would close the loophole that allows for the manufacturing of guns that can evade detection by simply removing a piece of metal. it's a simple fix to the existing statute that won't interrupt any lawful commerce in arms. you can be the most fervent believer in the second amendment, and the amendment we propose does not interfere with anyone's right to have a gun. none. all we do is keep the
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legislative language up to speed with technological developments. in conclusion, mr. president, a few years ago these undetectable plastic guns were science fiction. now they're frighteningly real. that's why we have to extend the ban and hopefully close the loophole. and i want to thank again my colleagues, senator nelson, my house in the house congressman israel, so many others who have joined us in this -- senators murphy and senator whitehouse, senator schatz -- who have been partners in trying to get this done. and so now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 3626, which is at the desk, that the nelson-schumer amendment which is also at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be read three times and passed and the motions to reconsider be made and laid on the table with
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no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 3626, which was received from the house. i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i don't think that i find fault with anything that senator schumer said except as a matter of timing and when to consider those things. before making any changes to current law, congress needs to gain an understanding of printed
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gun manufacturing technology and its relation to permanent metal parts. there are other technical issues that should be resolved before any legislation passes that reflects scientific and manufacturing process realities. today is the day that the current plastic gun ban expires. the house has -- had already passed a ten-year extension on a bipartisan vote, and the only way to be sure that the current ban remains on the books is to pass the house bill, which the senate just did. since the democrats wish to extend current law, there is no current circumstances that demand immediate changes to the law. every previous extension of the bill has occurred on a bipartisan basis and has lasted for at least five years so that congress does not need to constantly revisit it. but before thanksgiving, my
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colleague, the senator from new york, offered only a one-year extension. ten years is much better. and the one-year extension proposal contained none of the substantive provisions that that senator offered with mere hours to go before current law expires. after the senate passes the house bill, which we did, congress then has a responsibility to review the issue, hold hearings, and obtain expert testimony and consider alternative legislation, including what the senator from new york has suggested. the date of expiration of the current ban has been set for many years. if anybody in the senate is so concerned about what they consider to be loopholes in the law, this obviously should have been done through hearings and the introduction of legislation long ago. we did not even see the language of the proposed amendment that i
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objected to until this afternoon. dropping a bill at the 11th hour without any investigation into technological situation demonstrates that the real objectives were things other than just getting an extension. under current law, the attorney general shall ensure that the rules and regulations adopted to this paragraph do not impair the manufacture of prototype firearms or the development of new technology. that's a quote from the proposed language that i objected to. the amendment from -- or that's in present law. but the amendment from the senator from new york strikes that language. it seems to me that the justice department's regulations should not impair new technology or firearm manufacturing. so i don't know why that change
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should have been suggested, and i'm willing to listen to anybody's arguments to the contrary, but that's where i see it and i'm glad that we've taken the action that we have. and i yield the floor. # the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague from iowa. obviously i disagree, closing this loophole, the language may have been available this afternoon but the concept was out there for weeks and weeks sphn longer. he said he didn't object to any specifics that i mentioned here so i look forward, we're going to work hard with the senator from iowa and others who might disagree with us on interpretations of the second amendment in general to try and come to an agreement here to close a loophole that we don't think touches any second-amendment rights in any -- in any way at all. and if we can work together over the next few months, weeks, with hearings and other things and convince our colleagues that we have no intent other than to
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close this loophole and make sure the very law that the senator from iowa wished to renew is simply made whole given the new technology and the loophole is closed, i look forward to that opportunity. so i appreciate my colleague's remarks. i wished we had passed this amendment, i think it would have made the bill better, stronger, with fewer loopholes but that doesn't mean we can't try to do that over the next several months and i appreciate opportunity to do so with my friend, the only other charl e. in the senate. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i would, too, like to thank senator grassley for arranging so that we could proceed with the current law. and i have found senator grassley to be someone who will listen, who will deliberate and
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who will try to do what he thinks is in the best interest of the people. in this particular case, the security interest of the people. i would ask senator grassley to consider as we meet about this over the course of the next several weeks or months, since we both fly in to washington, d.c. and if you are on flights like this senator is, there may be a good chance that there is an air marshal on that flight because the flight is so sensitive coming in to a city where only seconds from an
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airplane aborting a landing, only within seconds that airplane is near some of the centers of the united states government, such as the capitol, such such as the white house, such as the supreme court. and if a person were able to sneak a plastic gun through, then it seems to me that that poses a much greater threat to the security interest of this country and its people. and if it is not legal, if it is, in fact, legal to have a gun where you can remove that piece of metal, and he has been
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able to sneak that through the metal detectors at the place of origin of that person's flight, then it seems to me we are asking for trouble. and that in the great tradition of the second amendment of protecting people and letting them have their rights to guns, that this is an abrasion of that -- be aeration of that right that we need to duely consider and protect against. and i thank senator grassley for coming here and extending the law today. thank you and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you,
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madam president. i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business until 7:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i noand speak for more than ten minutes when i get the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: certainly i don't have any objection to that. mr. alexander: may i ask consent i be allowed to speak for as much time as i require after senator reid does what he wants to do on the floor tonight which would not interfere with the senator from new hampshire going ahead at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you. mrs. shaheen: thank you, madam president. and senator alexander. i came to the floor this evening to talk about the importance of congress doing its job and passing a budget.
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we need a budget that's going to provide certainty for our economy, that will eliminate reckless spending cuts and will cost -- foster job creation. we hear this week that senator budget committee chair patty murray and house budget committee chair paul ryan may be close to just such an agreement. i think that's very good news because we need a budget deal so we can put an end to the manufactured crises that have hurt too many families and businesses in 23456r7 and across this country. i know that i speak for many of us here in the senate when i say that our primary focus really should be on continuing to put in place an environment that creates jobs, that lays a foundation for economic growth, and that's one of the things that getting a budget deal would help do. we've recently seen some signs of progress in the economy, the
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jobs report on friday was positive with over 200,000 private-sector jobs added in november, and we've now had 45 straight months of private-sector job growth. but we all know that we're not out of the woods yet. we have a lot more work to do. and we need to build on the momentum that is there to get more people back to work. when i travel around new hampshire, my constituents tell me that they're very frustrated with the gridlock in washington and what they want is for us to agree on a budget and to take action that supports economic growth. granite staters are absolutely right about that. with the potential budget agreement, we have an opportunity to eliminate some of the uncertainty in our economy, to eliminate some of those harmful cuts that are part of sequestration, the automatic budget cuts and to finally set
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some priorities that will help us create jobs. sadly, too much of the past few months has had the congress moving from one manufactured crisis on the budget to another. it's cost the economy severely, it's hurt job creation. as economist mark zandi recently noted as long as lawmakers stay deadlocked over the direction of the federal budget, the economic recovery will not gain momentum. so i'm very hope thankful we can reach a deal that will provide the proaftions committee with a road map for the rest of 2014 and 2015. i've heard from a lot of small businesses in new hampshire that one of the challenges they're currently facing post-government shutdown and certainly for so many small businesses and
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families they were hurt by that government shutdown which cost the economy about $24 billion and they're now looking at what the potential impact in the future will be from sequestration. those spending cuts have halted federal contracts in many cases for small businesses, they've caused uncertainty that's affecting job creation in hiring, and one of the new hampshire business owners who i met with recently said you hear about why c.e.o.'s are hesitant to hire, well, this is why. this uncertainty around sequestration, around what we're going to do about a budget for the country. these indiscriminate cuts from sequestration haven't just hurt job creation. they've also affected programs that are critical to families in
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new hampshire and across the country. one of those programs that i had a chance to visit last week is a meals on wheels program. and i helped deliver meals in rockingham county, the presiding officer knows rockingham county very well, it's just across the border from massachusetts which she represents. and i had really ambivalent feelings about delivering those meals to seniors because on the one hand, people were so appreciative and we got to help people who needed those hot meals. but, on the other hand, what i heard from those seniors was the effect that sequestration and spending cuts were having on the program because those spending cuts have slashed $81,000 from rockingham nutrition's meals on
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wheels budget. according to deborah perue, the executive director, rockingham nutritionists delivering 17,000 fewer meals as a result of those cuts. she told me it was a very tough day when they had to try and figure out who was going to get cut from getting those meals on wheels. and the seniors that i met with in salem told me they were frustrated that nothing was happening to eliminate those reckless spending cuts. i met a former engineer from raytheon, layery holmes and his wife lillian. lillian not only has dementia developing but has macular degeneration, it's made it difficult for her to cook. larry's pension from ray you thee -- raytheon doesn't go as far as it did 25 years would go oog when he retired and he said congress isn't doing anything to help. larry isn't alone, sadly.
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in salem 25% of meals on wheels recipients are older than 85 and for these seniors who are unable to cook for themselves, meals on wheels makes it possible for them to keep their housing and independence. and one of the things that the seniors did this fall was to do a campaign where the program asked all of the seniors who receive meals on wheels if the they would write a message about how they felt about the program on a paper plate. and send it to their elected officials so that we would know what they're thinking. so i brought some of those messages and they're short, so they won't take much time to read. but i think it's important to read some of these messages so that all of us have a chance to hear how our seniors are feeling. this one is not signed but it says seniors need meals on wheels to keep them this their homes and healthy.
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put yourself in their position. do you like to eat? do you want to be in your home? thank you meals on wheels, i'm crippled and walk with a walker. i can't cook much anymore, i'm diabetic so i have to eat, eat right. thanks to everyone who cooks and delivers. god bless you. keep meals on wheels. the homebound people are in need and look forward to getting a healthy meal and seeing someone every day. that's the other thing that's so important about meals on wheels. it's not just about delivering that hot meal, it's about making sure that someone is checking in on our older americans who are living alone, who sometimes don't see people because they're housebound. these messages are telling about just how important this program is.
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as maria and bill say, as this plate is empty, so will my wife's meals be. she has a serious medical problem and needs these meals. think of this when you sit in your dining room tonight have to have your meal. thank you for your help keeping these meals coming. and then from denise, she says please don't take my food away. i need it. that says it all, i think. and the work that rockingham nutrition and meals on wheels does is critical for seniors. in that part of new hampshire, they're joined by nine other meals on wheels programs around new hampshire, and they serve thousands of people throughout the state. last year alone, meals on wheels delivered more than 1.2 million meelts to -- meelings 2,011,596 people in new hampshire. and the services are critical
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not only nor improving the lives of service seniors but reducing health care spending. the yearly cost of meals on wheels for a single senior is the equivalent to the cost of nine days in a nursing home or just one or two days in the hospital. this is not just a program that is important to seniors because it keeps thementy and keeps them in their homes. this is a program that's cost-effective because if we're not able to keep seniors in their homes with something to eat, they're going to wind up in nursing homes, they're going to wind up in hospitals. programs like meals on wheels are not where we should be cutting. we should focus on wasteful and duplicative programs, not those with a proven track record of success. and that's why a budget agreement is so critical. this year the senate appropriations committee passed a bill that provided full
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funding for meals on wheels but without a budget agreement, we've not been able to restore cuts to this very vital program. we all know that sequestration was designed never to go into effect. it was designed to be so harmful and reckless that we in congress would find a better, smarter way to reduce our deficit. but because of sequestration, too many families and small businesses in new hampshire have felt firsthand the dramatic effects of us failing to do our job. with the potential budget agreement coming from senator murray and congressman ryan, we have an opportunity to reduce these impacts, to finally get to work replacing the harmful cuts from sequestration with a responsible plan that will grow our economy and create jobs. finally, it's my hope that a budget agreement also includes
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an extension of unemployment benefits for the millions of americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. now, in new hampshire, our unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and it has been consistently throughout this recession. but that doesn't help if you're in a household where the breadwinners are unemployed. that household has 100% unemployment rate. so despite the significant progress for our economy since the recession, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. and for millions of americans finding a job remains very difficult in this market. unemployment benefits remain a vital life line while they seek new work. so if we do nothing before the end of this year about 1.3 million americans will lose their extended unemployment
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benefits starting in january. millions more will exhaust their benefits over the course of 2014. in new hampshire, an estimated 8,500 individuals will be affected. failing to extend these benefits will not only hurt these families, but it will also affect our economic recovery. because failing to extend unemployment for these americans would result in 240,000 fewer jobs created in 2014. now, to put that in perspective, the recent jobs report showed that our economy gained 200,000 jobs in the month of november. failing to extend unemployment would be the equivalent of sacrificing an entire month of job creation. at this frj i'll point in our economic recovery, we should not be letting this critical program expire for these americans. madam president, i hope we can reach an agreement. i hope that agreement will begin
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to roll back those cuts for sequestration, will extend those unemployment benefits for those families who really need that and that we can get this done in a timely fashion so that the government continues to operate. thank you very much. i yield the floor. note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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